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Remarks En Route Ankara

Secretary Colin L. Powell
En Route Ankara, Turkey
April 1, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: I might start by letting you know that we're going to make another stop during the trip. I might even tell you where, if you're really good. Tomorrow afternoon and evening, on the way from Ankara to Brussels, we're going to stop in Belgrade, and it will give me a chance to meet with the new Prime Minister Mr. Zivkovic and meet with the President Mr. Marovic; and also to show our support for the country as they go through this difficult time following the death of the previous Prime Minister, a man I got to know very, very well, Mr. Djindjic; and also to encourage them to keep going after this kind of criminal behavior within their society, and just let them know that we're with them in this difficult time for them, and also encourage them to continue to do more with respect to turning people over to the Tribunal.

We'll be on the ground for about, oh, I guess two hours or so. It's a short in and out, the airport in, a couple of meetings, back to the airport, then on up to Brussels.

I think you know the itinerary in Ankara tomorrow. The itinerary in Brussels is still shaping up, but you know Richard will give it to you. The itinerary in Brussels is still shaping up, but we're looking forward to having meetings at the NAC and also with the European Union, and then a large number of bilaterals in the course of the day. A number of my foreign minister colleagues are coming. I still don't know the entire roster, but Foreign Secretary Straw and Foreign Minister Palacio will be there. And my colleague Igor Ivanov is in the area so he'll be coming by and I'll have a chance to spend time with him to follow up on some issues. And I know that Joschka Fischer will be there and I would expect George Papandreou and others, but I don't have the complete list yet of all of the meetings and bilaterals.

But I look forward to being able to give both of those groups an update on Operation Iraqi Freedom, how we think it's going, and to begin to look at the future, at the needs that the Iraqi people will have when they have been liberated; how to bring the entire international community behind the effort to rebuild the country after decades of destruction brought on by Saddam Hussein's regime; how to get the humanitarian aid moving in an efficient way, what new authorities might be needed from the UN, the role of international communities and the role of an interim authority as we stand one up. So it's a good opportunity in one place to do quite a bit of business with both NATO and with the European Union and to have a number of bilaterals.

With that, I'll just take your questions for a few minutes. I think they're getting ready to serve dinner.

QUESTION: In Turkey, Mr. Secretary, do you view the issue of Turkey sending troops into Northern Iraq as a closed issue, or do you think you still have some work? And a second part to that. Are they being helpful in terms of sending humanitarian assistance and other supplies into Northern Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the issue of going across the border and incursion, I think that's pretty much under control. Ambassador Zal Khalilzad has done some very good work with Ambassador Bob Pearson and I hope we will be able to come to a complete understanding tomorrow.

They will still watch the situation with interest because they have an equity up there and they don't want to see refugees flowing to the border. I think we have been able to assure them and demonstrate that assurance that with the presence of the 173rd Airborne and with all the special forces units that we have in the area now, we have pretty good coordination and control of activities of Kurds as well as being able to reassure the population that they have nothing to fear at this time from the Iraqi armed forces. So there has been no movement toward the border. There has been some internal displacement as people left cities to go to the mountains to kind of get away from trouble. So the situation is pretty stable and therefore we see absolutely nothing that would require such an incursion.

And I would also make the point to them that, in effect, with Iraqi Freedom now underway, we are increasingly in control of the country, and it is our commander who is exercising considerable authority throughout the country. And anything that might be a cause for concern with them, or plying them or encouraging them to think they should take action, would have to be in coordination with our commander. I think most of these issues have been worked out and settled, but it's a good opportunity for me to speak to Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul about it to make sure there are no further misunderstandings.

With respect to aid, we're working with them. This is something I will talk to them about. And not only the help they're giving our forces in the north, but also how to encourage them to make it easier for United Nations organizations to transit through Turkey to put aid in place. There have been some delays and I want to see if we can just get these delays out of the way and get this aid prepositioned and moved through in an expeditious manner. So yes, we'll be talking about that as well.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you know many European nations want to see the UN play a central role in shaping Iraq's political future before they commit to funds for reconstruction. Where do you stand on what kind of role the UN should play in Iraq's political future?

SECRETARY POWELL: The UN has made it clear that they do not want to be governing Iraq. Secretary General Annan and I have talked about this a number of times and Dr. Rice has been up to see him. I expect to see him once I get back from this trip.

I am going to have to talk to all of my colleagues on Thursday and in the course of the next several days to get their individual opinions about it, but I think there is a consensus that says the United Nations has a role to play. If you look at the Azores statement and what President Bush and Prime Minister Blair said at Camp David last week, you have a solid acknowledgement from them and from President Aznar and others that there is that role for the UN to play.

What we have to work out is exactly the nature of that role and how the UN role will be used to provide some level of endorsement for our actions, the actions of the coalition, in Iraq for some period of time until we can switch administration over to civilian administrators on the way to a new government built up from the interim Iraqi authority.

We believe that early on the interim Iraqi authority should be accorded some level of recognition so that aid can flow. I think it's important for us to show as soon as we can that Iraqis now are, once again, taking charge of their country to put it on a road to a better future based on all the principles you heard us espouse -- getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, representative government, one nation, territorial integrity, and living in peace with its neighbors. And the sooner we show that in the form of an interim Iraqi authority that is working with the coalition, working with the UN and working with the international organizations to serve the people of Iraq, the sooner we will have the Iraqi people recognize that a new life is there for them. And we'll get the full cooperation, I hope, of the population.

Now, how you put that all in the form of UN resolutions is something we'll have to work at and it will take a great deal of discussion and negotiations. But I sense everybody understands that there will, no doubt, be debates about how much authority the UN should have and what the role of coalition forces should be during this interim period. As you've heard me say many times, I think it's pretty obvious in a campaign like this, as you bring it to a conclusion, as you succeed, as you win, the military has a role to play to stabilize the situation, disarm people that need to be disarmed, deal with the residual military force that's there, get the weapons of mass destruction. And you can't turn that over to anyone right away, so there will be a period when the military will have that very proper and legitimate responsibility. But as the President has said on occasion -- many occasions, I think -- we don't want to stay one day longer or leave one day sooner than we should.

QUESTION: On the subject of Turkey, it's taken a lot of time to work out the specifics, apparently. Can you give some -- can you tell us a little bit about the negotiations over the last several days? The Turks, apparently -- there were reports -- want some mechanism that would help decide what the conditions are for it to intervene or send its troops in. Can you be a little more specific about those modalities?

SECRETARY POWELL: We talked about conditions that might cause them to think about intervening: a sudden flood of refugees to the border that becomes uncontrollable, the kind we had back in 1991; assaults against the Turkomen population; or a sense that there was a breakaway from Iraq among the Kurdish leaders. All those things would cause the Turks a great deal of concern and anxiety, and we have expressed our understanding of all of that, said none of those conditions are starting to appear, so we can manage this and you don't have to think about intervening.

Now, how do we monitor that? And so we're trying to put in place a coordination mechanism and Ambassador Khalilzad and Bob Pearson have been working with them. They had a meeting -- they were scheduled to have a meeting yesterday -- on putting together a coordination mechanism that would serve this purpose. And I don't have a report from Zal or from Bob yet as to whether they finished that work.

But even as they are doing that work and that coordination effort to find another model, we have lots of coordination. I mean Bob Pearson has been living with his Turkish colleagues day and night for weeks. And Zal, of course, is our very superb special envoy for this and he's been there for a while. He'll be there tomorrow. He's staying and he'll be there tomorrow and then travel with me on up to Brussels.

So the final answer, Steve, will be tomorrow after I've had a chance to get a report from Zal on the coordination group they were trying to form.

QUESTION: Yes, the Turkish markets have gone up quite a bit since it was announced that the administration was seeking a billion dollars for Turkey as part of the supplemental. But already in Congress, there are some efforts to put conditions on that, to scale that back. And what sort of message are you going to be bringing to the Turks about what they can expect out of this appropriation, what they might need to do to see it?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will point out to them as I have already in my conversations with them that the President put $1 billion in the supplemental not in payment for anything or to compensate for anything, but because of our concerns, concerns that we've had for a long time about the Turkish economy and how we want to help a friend and a partner.

We haven't decided whether they have a need for that yet or how it would be used if the appropriation is finally funded by the Congress. But I will point out to my Turkish friends that notwithstanding this expression of support on the part of the President, there is still a level of disappointment in the United States within the administration and within the Congress over some of the actions of the past month or so and the inability to get the vote on the 1st of March.

They have been cooperative recently, very cooperative when they took the overflight request to the parliament. But because we didn't get the vote on the 1st of March, we had to modify our plans in a way that you all are quite familiar with. And people in Congress are looking at this and wondering whether or not the $1 billion should be included in a time of tough fiscal circumstances for Turkey. And I will just point this out to them tomorrow that this -- there is lingering, there's a lingering sense of disappointment that we have to make sure that we do nothing more to contribute to in the days and weeks ahead as we push for the supplemental.

QUESTION: Are you going to sort of discuss the actions of Iran and Syria with the Turkish authorities as both countries, Iran and Syria, are neighbor countries to Turkey after the accusations you've made against Damascus and Tehran last Sunday?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sure it'll come up in conversation. My most recent statement at AIPAC the other night was pointing out the reality that both of those states continue to support terrorist action. And earlier statements from Don Rumsfeld and others in the administration expressed our concern, particularly with Syria, with possible or actual transit of equipment and weapons that might assist Iraq. So I'm sure it'll come up in the course of our conversation. But I'm here, principally, to talk about our bilateral relationship and what's happening right now with operation Iraqi Freedom and after Iraqi Freedom.

With respect to this question, Barry's question, --

QUESTION: Well, what can they do to neutralize the resentment? I mean people like Lantos are trying to keep the cut light, trying to cooperate --

SECRETARY POWELL: I think if we see full cooperation in the days ahead and especially in the aftermath of operation Iraqi Freedom and full support for humanitarian efforts as well as to support our troops that are now in Northern Iraq, then I think this would help.

I'm working with the Pentagon now. Admiral Metzger is seeing if there are any particular requests that we want to put before the Turks, but we're not looking at any requests that go to the level of, you know, the kinds of requests we were looking at a month or so ago. These would be requests having to do with just sustaining the operation, our operations in Northern Iraq and should be not difficult for the Turks to accommodate. We're looking for a spirit of accommodation, rapid turnaround on requests, and the $1 billion is not compensation for anything that we have asked for, or I am asking for now. It was an expression of support on the part of the President for Turkey and for the economic difficulties that it finds itself in or might find itself in when the supplemental ultimately is passed.

Even when we were going through the exercise with the $6 billion, and as we were putting that package together, we always recognized that Turkey would be having some economic needs. It was sort of a baseline. They would have some economic needs that we might have to deal with and whatever they might do with respect to troops going through or the reinforcements going through were increments above that. So the $1 billion is an expression of what we believe Turkey's economic needs might be. And as you know, that can be scaled up to about $8.5 billion in loans.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I know that you are confident of victory in Iraq and you're confident that once the Iraqis see this better life that awaits them that things will straighten out, but in the interim, the longer the war goes on, the more casualties among Iraqi civilians occur inadvertently, but the more that occur, how concerned are you about how that is complicating the situation in the Arab world and heating up emotions?

SECRETARY POWELL: We all would like to see the war brought to a speedy conclusion but wars are fought and you follow the rhythm of the battles. And what I'm seeing right now as I look at it is that everyday they are getting weaker and we are getting stronger.

Everyday a large number of sorties go out of all kinds and they come back having destroyed more tanks, more artillery, inflicted more casualties on the Iraqi forces. Those casualties in those forces are not being replenished. There are no new tanks coming and each day more coalition forces arrive in the theater. And now the 4th Division is well into its unloading and moving into the battle area. And so there's no doubt in my mind about the fact that we will prevail, but I cannot tell you how long it will take. That goes to the rhythm of the battles, the rhythm of the war, and the judgments that are made by the commanders on both sides.

But I think it's inevitable. We all hope it will be soon, because of some of the concerns that we see in the Arab Street, because we want to get on with our original mission, which is get rid of the weapons of mass destruction and start to rebuild this country and society. I've seen these rhythms and patterns before. When I was -- one of the quotations that will forever be with me is, "Cut it off and kill it," from the Gulf War. But people forget the context in which I said that.

It was a week into the war and we, me and Dick Cheney, were catching hell. It's all going to heck in a handbasket. The war is not going well. We saw all these smart weapons on night one. Why is it still going on? This was about day six or seven. And Secretary Cheney and I got together and said, "We've, you know, got to go put this into some context." And we did. We went downstairs. And Mr. Cheney put the strategic perspective on the map for the press and then I went before my maps and I described the battle plan and I talked about peeling back the air defense, I talked about going after command and control and strategic communications targets in Baghdad. I talked about how we were isolating the battlefield and how we were doing all of these things. And then as I slowly made this magnificent Commanding General Staff Course presentation, I finally got down to where the Iraqi army was deployed and I said, "You know, okay, so what you've seen is all of these things, radars going down, air defense going down. So first we're going to cut it off and then we're going to kill it." It was a rehearsed line but I didn't think it was that big of a line.

But people forgot that we were preparing and shaping a battlefield, and everybody had gone from a high on night one to a low by day six, and then when we had the presentation, everybody kind of realized, okay, we better just take a deep breath of some smelling salts and wait for the battle to unfold. And that's what you're seeing now.

QUESTION: Just a quick one. Can you be any more specific about the military requests you're making of the Turks? Are you particularly asking for more use of the airfields in the southeast?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't be specific yet because we haven't gotten yet from Don and Dick Myers exactly what it is, so I don't want to prejudge what they might ask me to do. But from what I've seen of the preliminary request, they are not -- this should not be hard to accommodate, not a major -- you know, we're not asking for divisions to come in or anything like that.


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